The 2019 state level elections which shall include the gubernatorial and state Houses of Assembly elections may go down as the most keenly contested in recent memory. There are 29 states out of 36, which elections will hold to elect state governors. However, all the states shall elect new legislators at the state level, while Abuja shall elect new sets of council officials. The campaigns and the outcome of the just concluded presidential and National Assembly elections have made Saturday’s election even more unpredictable.
In Kwara State, it appears that in spite of the recent elections and their outcome, pundits are not very sure of how the pendulum will swing among the major gladiators. Those who thought the election has been sorted realised this week that there is all to play for. This has energised more campaigns and got the state fired up. As a result, there are probable and present danger for violence. For there not to be violence, we hereby call on all political parties, the electorate and other stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies to eschew bitterness and see election as a game. Under no circumstance should any political tendency be given any advantages. Let the people vote, and let their votes count.
Also, having observed the socio economic and political development of the state for over a decade, it is important that the Kwara electorate refuse to be intimidated but vote for candidates or parties that have helped to reshape the story of the state. No doubt, there has been major events and developments that have put the state on global map. The state’s university is one of them. The aviation school, diagnostic centre and numerous developmental indices have shown a state on the pathway to glory. We are not sure that if this trajectory of development is disrupted at the polls, whether the numerous indicators for progressive governance will not be abrogated.
It is always better to err on the side of caution. But it will be tragic if for mere sloganeering, the state is taken on a wild goose chase. All the same, we plead for an even environment. We plead for order and above all, a smooth election, come Saturday. The police being the lead law enforcement agency for security during election should be above board. We hold them by their words and actions. We expect maximum support for electoral officers and voters to carry out their duties in decorum. For it is when people choose without cohesion that election is deemed free and fair.
Also, it is important to not mar the coming poll with voters’ suppression or vote buying. There were lots of such malfeasance during the last election. There was also a lot of cancellation of votes due to those. INEC must watch out for party or candidate agents who deliberately cause these problems in order to precipitate cancellation in the strongholds of their opponents. This is another example of rigging. When your opponent loses votes in his or her stronghold, even after people have voted overwhelmingly, it goes without saying that it is a crafty way of suppressing votes. We urge both INEC and security agencies to discourage and refuse such tendency. It casts shadow on what should have been an honorable exercise.
As we count down to the election, we urge all participants to remember that in the end we are all Kwarans. Win or lose, it is what is good for the state of harmony that will prevail. There is therefore no need for vitriol or foul language that will damage relationships built over the years. Most of the major gladiators were once in the same political family. Thus, politics, though a serious business, is a game in the end. It is not worth anybody’s blood.
We urge the electorate to elect experienced lawmakers that will help the state make faster progress. Experience is key in democracy more so at the legislative level. The electorate must take that part of election seriously. The focus should not be about the governor alone. We are hopeful that everything goes well and in the end, Kwara is the better for it. The electorate thus should focus on the election but look out for trouble makers. Law enforcement agencies should also be fair and firm to instill public confidence. And INEC must ensure this time that materials reach polling units on time. Late arrivals sometimes lead to agitations, which lead to violence.